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[r29] Increasing integrity in Indiana’s election process
Start Date: 8/15/2014 All Day
End Date: 8/15/2014
Entry Description
Increasing integrity in Indiana’s election process

In May, I started to receive phone calls regarding mailers that were being sent out by the Secretary of State’s Election Division as part of a voter list refresh project. To provide some clarity on the situation, I wrote a column discussing the project, why it was necessary and how important this was to our state. This week, the Election Division announced the results of the voter list refresh, and I wanted to follow-up and let you know how effective the project was overall.

To provide you with some background information, under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, the federal government requires voter list maintenance to be conducted by each state, which is intended to increase the integrity of the election process. According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 24 million voter registrations in the U. S., equivalent to one out of every eight, that are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate. As people move across the county or country, or individuals unfortunately pass away, voter lists need to be updated from time to time to remain current. 

While it is important for every state to keep accurate records, cleaning up voting rolls is an enormous project and expensive. In Indiana, counties were previously in charge of updating these lists without any help from the state, but since this was such a large project and with limited resources available, this became an extremely burdensome and time consuming process. Not to mention, often times, counties did not have enough information to go off of to contact a voter’s previous county of residence to have their voter registration record removed. 

To address this issue, I carried a bill during the 2013 legislative session to update Indiana’s voter list maintenance program. This law authorized a statewide mailer to be sent to all active voters, during even numbered years, with the intent to: remove the burden of voter list maintenance impacting cash-strapped counties, bring Indiana into better compliance with federal law and improve the overall integrity of Indiana’s election process. 

Since Election Division falls under the Secretary of State’s duties, her office was responsible for providing guidance on this project as well as sending out the mailers.  This week, Secretary of State Connie Lawson provided the results of this project, and with over 47,000 Hoosiers updating their information, I consider this to be a success. Roughly, 730,000 records were identified as needing to be updated or no longer valid.  In Hamilton County there were 935 voters canceled because they no longer lived here and 21,995 were put into the inactive status.

Hamilton County, along with every county’s voter registration office, has used the returned mailers to update their voting rolls. Using these materials, they were able to identify any changes that needed to be made regarding voter registration information in addition to marking when voting records needed to be placed as inactive. 
  
If you think your name might be on the inactive list, do not be alarmed. Being on the inactive list does not mean that you cannot vote, it simply means that since you didn't return your cards, your information was not updated. If someone is on the inactive list and goes to the polls to cast a ballot in November, they will be moved back to the active list.

Additionally, if an inactive voter does not cast a ballot in November, they can still vote in the 2015 municipal elections and the 2016 federal elections. However, the only way the voter registration office will remove your record from the voting rolls is if you do not vote in any election prior to Jan. 2017.
    
Updating voting rolls is never an easy task, but I believe this new system was a significant step towards reducing the burden counties were facing while increasing the integrity of our election process. Hamilton County’s voter registration office, led by Beth Sheller and Pat Toschlog, has done a great job in completing this project. The county will no longer be adding additional precincts due to a number of inactive voters.

I hope this follow-up information was helpful, and if you have additional questions, I encourage you to contact Beth and Pat at our local voter registration office at 317-776-9632 or www.hamiltoncounty.in.gov. Additional information can also be found by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at www.in.gov/sos/elections/.

-30-

Representative Kathy Kreag Richardson (R-Noblesville)
Contact Information:
Name: Ben Gavelek
Phone: 317-232-9831
Email: ben.gavelek@iga.in.gov
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Entry Type:
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Entry Category:
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  • IN.gov Category:
  • Government
  • Agency Name
    House of Representatives Republican Caucus

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